A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.
This validates the principle that people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
Authentic engagement is not the domain of control or even influence. It isn’t about manipulating people to serve one’s agenda, no matter how altruistic or narcissistic. It’s creating capacity for empowerment and caring makes that more possible for leaders and change agents.